It’s a new year, a fresh beginning and it’s going to be noisy. With 7.5 billion people hanging out on Planet Earth, why are we surprised? Here’s a thought. Let’s bring joy and wonder into each day, making it sparkle. Let’s laugh louder and more often. Let’s try on Happiness until it fits. What we know for sure is Life’s overwhelming, difficult and sometimes sad. Let’s face it, our tank’s gotta be full to be grownups!
Every January I rethink this blog. Another year: Go or No. This began as a vehicle for me to re-build a life. Whether single by choice, divorce or death, I realized many others were making that same journey. Call it brazen or desperate, I decided it might be helpful to them and for me to tell my story, wins, fails and draws. The stars were aligned when I stumbled onto the French Fridays with Dorie group and began blogging. That was February, 2011.
Although I’ve put together a Lifestyle that is mine, it’s quite another to live it successfully. That’s true for all of us, male/female, single /married. What I know for sure is every aspect of Life is knowing ‘when to hold ‘em, fold ‘em, walk away or run.’* Writing this blog with all it entails has become part of who I am. Thanks to all of you for making that so. Let’s muddle through another year together. OK?
YEAR 2019 – MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU
One way to win the resolutions game every year is to not make any ….. which I don’t. My only 2018 goals were to Read More (#ilovetoread), to Learn Something Everyday (#learningisfun) and to finish up my Presidential Library visits. (Done.)
During the past 7 single years, despite detours, ups and downs, I found the right stuff to set life right for me. No ideas were original but I needed to find, glean and pull together what worked. The constant I carry with me is to manage and worry about what I can control. Why let your happiness be controlled by something you can’t? I thrive, and always have, on goals, plans and projects. Lists and calendars are my buddies. “She was Organized” will be carved on my tombstone.
It’s never too late to reclaim your time and set up boundaries. At any age your mental health, physical fitness and diet requires attention. Everything you invest into your bank (your body) will reap rewards now and later. Get enough sleep. Trust me on that. Friends and family are golden. Stick with those who support, encourage and lift you up. Here’s a tip. Meet and make friends who are younger than you. While it’s fashionable to bash the Millennials and Gen Z’s, I live with them, work with them and listen to them. I’m the better for it.
We’re gonna do this … for another year.
TANGERINE-CHAMPAGNE SORBET by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen
3 cups fresh tangerine juice from about 4 pounds of tangerines (I used tangerine juice available at Trader Joe’s and other markets.)
⅔ cup granulated sugar
1 cup Champagne, or other sparkling wine
In a large saucepan over low heat, warm ½ cup of the tangerine juice with the sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 ½ cups of tangerine juice. Add the Champagne or sparkling wine. Transfer to another container and chill thoroughly.
Freeze in your ice cream maker about 20 minutes according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Put in another container and place in freezer.
Note: This sorbet will not freeze as hard as other sorbets because of the alcohol in the Champagne. However, it will make it more scoop-able once fully frozen.
*The title of this blogpost includes a Homophone, a type of homonym with words that sounds alike but have different meanings and different spellings.
Many of us have a Christmas story to tell. This is mine.
I decorated this Christmas tree in 2012. Michael had died earlier that year. After 8 years of living in Henderson, Nevada, our house was already sold and I was busily packing to move back to Aspen. The reality was if I ever was to have a tree again, it was now. As I remember, my Energy said, “No.” My Mind insisted, “Do it.”
I love everything about this Season. Being married to a Jewish guy meant we robustly celebrated all his holidays as well as mine. My girls are the better for it. To say I always over-decorated is not an understatement. So I decided, if this was a GO, I would GO all out.
My neighbors, Ray and Dom, were good guys, happily lending their brains or brawn to our every need. I asked them to help me choose an artificial eight feet tall Christmas tree. We visited Big Box stores and found the perfect one which they hauled home, unboxed and put together. They also carried down boxes of decorations from my attic storage area. Yeah, they weren’t feeling the love by then!
Within a week even Martha Stewart would have been impressed by my decor, especially the tree. Every ornament/bauble carried a memory and I relived each one as I hung it. After four months of profound sadness and anxiety about the future, this tree represented my Life’s Joys. There was nothing sad about it.
I shared that beautiful Christmas tree with anyone I could drag off the street, entertain or ply with food and drink. Every night I ate dinner on a table next to it. It remained up until the end of January when I packed up the decorations. The guys dismantled the tree, moving it to their home.
Now, five years later, my holidays are totally different. Not worse. Not better. Just different. Every year I leave Snow Country and return to spend the holiday seasons here in the Las Vegas area where we once lived. I spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my Bishop family. Surrounded by friends and family, what could be better?
At this time of year, especially, the weight of those less fortunate/alone/sick/family separations weighs a little heavier on me. I assuage the guilt of my good fortune, if that’s the correct term, by remembering there are always Pay It Forward opportunities in Thought, Word and Deed to do. Kindness comes in all forms.
Last week an elderly woman (probably my age) was struggling to maneuver her walker through Von’s electric door. The door kept trying to close. To my dismay, other shoppers just walked in through the adjacent door. The woman was frightened and embarrassed. Feeling disgusted but determined, I held that pesky door open while maneuvering the woman/walker through it. I left her at the banana bin after countless thank you’s. Sometimes Kindness takes less than 5 minutes. The End of my Story.
This week the beloved Ina Garten, known to many as the Barefoot Contessa, and her husband, Jeffrey, are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. She has been posting photos of their life together on Instagram every day. I pulled out her first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, published in 1999 and decided to bake her Maple-Oatmeal Scones in their honor. I taste-tested them at breakfast with my friends. Why did I wait 20 years to bake these little darlings. They were delicious. Here’s the Link.
SENDING LOVE, HUGS AND HAPPY THOUGHTS to YOU ALL, Mary
MAPLE SYRUP and MUSTARD BRUSSELS SPROUTS by DORIE GREENSPAN, EVERYDAY DORIE
Everyone has a brussels sprouts story. This is mine.
When we moved to Aspen from Des Moines in 1988, we bought a house that wasn’t grand but situated on lovely property abutting Red Butte Mountain and surrounded by 40-some evergreen trees. Along with moving too many belongings, we also packed up our shovels, pitchforks and Iowa gardening skills.
BAY LEAF POUND CAKE with COINTREAU GLAZE by DAVID LEBOVITZ, MY PARIS KITCHEN, PERFECT TREAT for VOLUNTEER WORKERS on ELECTION DAY.
Understatement: Mother Nature looks askance at cocky Iowa farmers who tilled their luscious black soil at 955’ and believe that still works with a 4-month growing season at 9000’ altitude. We immediately planted Burpee’s Big Boy tomatoes, harvesting only one which was rock hard and barely red. Michael, a bit frugal, calculated that Big Boy cost $37.35.
ON ELECTION DAY I COULD BE MOST HELPFUL TO MY FRIEND, DONNA GRAUER, an EAGLE COUNTY PRECINCT COMMITTEE PERSON, by BEING the CHIEF COOK and BOTTLE WASHER as SHE COORDINATED HER DAY’S ACTIVITIES. (No one left hungry.) THE VEGETARIAN SQUASH LENTIL CHILI from the KITCHN WAS DELICIOUS. A LINK TO THE RECIPE IS BELOW.
Eventually we struck a bargain with Colorado’s High Country climate and grew leafy greens and nightshade vegetables. A friend shared her hardy rhubarb roots which yielded a never-ending supply of tangy stalks. My son-in-law loved strawberry/rhubarb pie. Every year I tried to curry favor by hand-delivering one to him in California. However, we were most successful with starchy, tuberous New Potatoes, hosting tater parties every fall.
THIS PAST WEEKEND I MADE A RACK of LAMB, A PERFECT COMPLIMENT TO DORIE’S BRUSSELS SPROUTS.
We rejoiced in our Hits and lamented Misses. One year I spotted brussels sprouts plantings at the local nursery and purchased six. The plants, neither pretty nor luscious, are statuesque. Throughout the summer I lost five but daily monitored the one stalk standing. Its edible buds, mini-cabbages, grew from nubs to walnut-sized nuggets. One evening I decided it was “time,” and excitedly announced to my husband that ‘5 brussels sprouts would be on the menu for tomorrow’s dinner.’
Brussels Sprouts Plant, Cedar Circle Farms
The next morning I walked outside to reap the harvest. The stalk was still standing minus the edible nubs. I cannot over-emphasize my total shock and dismay, taking a double- and triple-take. Apparently a wily deer had been stalking my stalk. He quietly crept into our yard and nibbled the motherlode to extinction!
ON ELECTION DAY WHEN I WAS WORKING IN THE KITCHEN AT DONNA’S, A HERD OF MULE DEER STOPPED BY.
It was spaghetti night at Little Annie’s restaurant. That’s where I licked my wounds, along with a super-sized margarita. I never again planted brussels sprouts.
A LAST SUPPER with FRIENDS BEFORE I CLOSED DOWN MY KITCHEN FOR THE WINTER. THEIR HAIR ORNAMENTS ARE MY NAPKIN RINGS!
Next week I’m very, very excited about traveling to Grand Rapids. You heard right, Grand Rapids. Michigan.
PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY WRAP-UP
EVERY TIME I VISIT A PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY I GET MY PASSPORT BOOKLET STAMPED.
In 1962, the summer I graduated from high school, Herbert Hoover’s Presidential Library opened in nearby West Branch, Iowa. Enjoying an ongoing love affair with history I visited the library before heading to college at Florida State. During that visit I vowed to visit every single Presidential Library administered by the National Archives (there were four).
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, HYDE PARK, NEW YORK.
Next Friday, 56 years later, I will realize that goal by visiting President Ford’s (there are now 13). Five years ago I decided ‘if not now, when.’It has been a fantastic journey of learning, made even richer by the friends who encouraged, supported and traveled with me.
Leaving Aspen for the Winter. Next stop: Grand Rapids.
COULD THIS BE A DESCENDANT OF MY BRUSSELS SPROUTS NOSHING- MULE DEER?
My Newest Gougères, our first recipe choice from Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook. Served for lunch (yeah) with Butternut Squash Soup topped with toasted coconut shreds.
Who doesn’t keep some kernels of wisdom tucked into their hip pocket to pull out when needed. For me, my pocket runneth over with pithy tips. Here are just two:
1. PEOPLE LIKE TO BE THANKED. (My mother) While growing up, I knew whenever someone gave me a gift, a thank you note was to follow and I was going to write it. That has trickled down through three generations. My teenage granddaughters have yet to persuade their mother that e-mails count.
My parents, generous to a fault, were simply teaching me gratitude and appreciation. Ingrained in my DNA is knowledge my father, a kid of the Great Depression, got to college because of a baseball scholarship. He had no money, an athlete’s appetite and was kept fed only through the generosity of a local Catholic family who lived near campus. He never forgot that nor do I.
Dorie Greenspan’s newest cookbook, Everyday Dorie, the Way I Cook
2. After giving the keynote address at a Seattle food blogging convention and being asked the secret of her success, she replied, “I AlWAYS SAY YES.” (Dorie Greenspan)
Several years ago I was sitting in the audience with many of my French Fridays with Dorie blogging colleagues when Dorie answered this question. It was a shocker for me because I had always believed there was great value and discipline in being able to say, “No.”
October is a month for birthdays. Local author Cathy O’Connell and I always celebrate together. This year we’re also jubilant about the recent publication of her latest novel, The Last Night Out. Don’t miss it.
This was an uncomfortable moment. Having just lost a husband who suffered through an unforgiving disease for eight years, I was trying to redefine my Life. Dorie, who I had grown to admire and respect, was suggesting my “rules of engagement,” might need tweaking.
You know what I did, Readers? I began to tweak, deciding to keep the good guys, Strengthand Resilience, while shelving the more negative “No.” By paying attention I soon realized the charismatic Dorie’s “Yes,” is more a compromising Getting-to-Yes. Now that philosophy was explained in the innovative 2011 book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.” Ironically Dorie’s built her phenomenal 40-year career by saying, “Yes,” but left it to authors Fisher, Ury and Patton to write a book explaining it.
My friend, Karen Kribs, celebrated my birthday by hosting an afternoon High Tea. Aranzazu (pictured) enjoyed the fun also and we all loved it.
It doesn’t hurt to have one of our Valley’s most talented musicians and a dear friend, Charlotte McLain, amongst us to play Happy Birthday tunes during tea time.
That’s why we’re here today. Seven years ago, merci to an Oprah’s article, I joined French Fridays with Dorie, an international group devoted to cooking through Dorie’s Around My French Table cookbook. Many of you subscribers know my oft-repeated story about connecting to this group and committing to a weekly blogging schedule. That provided me with structure and a social community, props to re-build a lifestyle.
Avoir, Mon Ami. My bruised and battered FFWD cookbook got quite a workout the past 7 years. The binding is even separated from the content pages. Retired, with love, on a shelf of honor but still making the delicious recipes.
Our FFWD group retired two years ago, after cooking 300 recipes together. Some of us continued blogging. Many pursued other interests. The one thing we did, however, was keep in touch with each other. We clearly could not break up the group. Nor did we want to lose touch with our Dorie, the author of 13 cookbooks, winner of five James Beard and two IACP Cookbooks of the Year awards, who had showered us with interest and support.
An international meet-up: Frankfurt, Germany, meets Aspen, Colorado, in Vail. Rose Heda and I have been French Fridays with Dorie food blogging colleagues for 7 years but had never met. Knowing she would be in Boulder this week, we’ve had a lunch planned since last February. Last Wednesday it happened: a 3 hour lunch, lots of chatter, a wonderful “real” friendship now.
When Dr. Katie Baillargeon, a FFWD alum and administrator of our Cook the Book Fridays blog, discovered Dorie was writing another cookbook, she asked if we could cook through it like before. Dorie was delighted. As were we. Can you hear the drumrolls? This is our first post from her amazing new “Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook.” Gougères are a classic French appetizer. We chose this recipe because Gougères were the first recipe we posted from AMFT in 2010.
Readers, I promise you are going to love this new adventure showcasing Dorie’s recipes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Just out of the oven.
MY NEWEST GOUGÈRES by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook
Makes about 60 gougères
From Dorie: “Gougères are French cheese puffs based on a classic dough called pâte à choux (the dough used for cream puffs). It’s a testament to their goodness that I’m still crazy about them after all these years and after all the thousands that I’ve made. Twenty or so years ago, when my husband and I moved to Paris, I decided that Gougères would be the nibble I’d have ready for guests when they visited. Regulars chez moi have come to expect them.”
1⁄2 cup whole milk
1⁄2 cup water 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
11⁄4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (preferably French)
2 cups coarsely grated cheese, such as Comté, Gruyère and/or sharp cheddar
2⁄3 cup walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
From Dorie: My secret to being able to serve guests gougères on short notice is to keep them in the freezer, ready to bake. Scoop the puffs, freeze them on a parchment-lined baking sheet or cutting board and then pack them airtight. You can bake them straight from the oven. Just give them a couple more minutes of heat.
1.Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
2. Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat and immediately start stirring energetically with a heavy spoon or whisk. The dough will form a ball and there’ll be a light film on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring for another 2 minutes or so to dry the dough. Dry dough will make puffy puffs.
3. Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or work by hand with a wooden spoon and elbow grease). Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one, followed by the white, beating until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. The dough may look as though it’s separating or falling apart but just keep working. By the time the white goes in, the dough will be beautiful. Beat in the mustard, followed by the cheese and the walnuts. Give the dough a last mix-through by hand.
I used a small 2-Teaspoons cookie scoop, available on line, to form the balls of dough.
4. Scoop or spoon out the dough, using a small cookie scoop (11⁄2 teaspoons). If you’d like larger puffs, shape them with a tablespoon or medium-size cookie scoop. Drop the dough onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each mound. (The dough can be scooped and frozen on baking sheets at this point.)
5. Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F.
6. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the Gougères are puffed, golden and firm enough to pick up, another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately—these are best directly from the oven.
S T O R I N G: The puffs are best soon after they come out of the oven and nice (if flatter) at room temperature that same day. If you want to keep baked puffs, freeze them and then reheat them in a 350-degree-F oven for a few minutes.
Thousands of Leaf Peepers flooded into Colorado’s High Country the past two weeks to enjoy Mother Nature’s dazzling performance. Watching our quaking Aspen leaves transform their green into golden yellow is a magical time here. From the moment we spot the first yellow leaves until they begin to turn crispy brown, it’s an ongoing conversation.
FOR WHOM THE MAROON BELLS TOLL
“Have you driven to the [Independence] Pass. It’s gorgeous now?”
“The Crystal River Valley is phenomenal. Don’t forget to stop for BBQ at Slow Groovin’ in Marble.”
“Be sure to visit the [Maroon] Bells now. Go early and go often.”
For the Break-Fast Celebration following Yom Kippur, I was asked to share a cheese board.
In 30 years of watching these leaves change, I’ve never seen it more beautiful. Then again, it might be that after a summer of drought and a devastating fire, it’s a relief to know Mother Nature can right herself with this extraordinary display of color.
More Break-Fast fare, Donna’s Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese frittatas
We’re now pivoting into our two-month off-season of Mad Dashes. Contractors with their construction teams dash into town to do what can’t be done during the tourist season. While the downtown area is being “refreshed,” at The Gant complex we’re installing a new AC/Heating system. It’s complicated! Crews are busy with road, bridge and trail repairs, all anticipating the upcoming ski season.
This is also a time, as you see in my pictures, when we dash here and there to break bread with friends we don’t often see during the busy summer. Weary locals take time from work for mad dashes to Moab, Santa Fe or Denver. Some plan longer adventures. When my friends leave for several weeks, I often keep an eye on their houses, watering plants, picking up mail, doing an occasional walkabout.
I made Lady Hélène’s Apple Cake especially for Philip Salet’s 90th birthday dinner. He’s quite a guy with memorable experiences to share. We were good listeners.
Meredith (R) contributed her Atlanta-version of Red Beans & Rice. Jessica Salet (L). As a little boy, Philip was interned at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manilla so his story started there.
Unfortunately September is also the time our local black bears turn frisky, wandering down from the mountains to hunt for food. Needing to put on weight to prepare for hibernation, they eat (acorns, berries, insects, small creatures) and drink constantly, 12 hours a day. Unlike Grizzlies, black bears are harmless unless challenged.
Last Tuesday I woke up before sunrise and headed for the Maroon Bells. Brrrr It was dark and cold. I wanted to see the beautiful Bells wrapped in full-on color just one more time but without being surrounded by crowds. About 100 photographers who had staked their claim long before I woke up were patiently waiting for sunrise. So much for solitude.
Twice recently I’ve encountered a bear, maybe a two or three-year-old, 100-150 pounds, who has claimed the trail behind The Gant that I hike frequently. It’s a quiet secluded trail and yesterday we actually startled each other. Bear meets Me. He quickly scampered away and after waiting 5 minutes I scampered down the trail myself. I am sufficiently wary enough (and, scared) to deed the territory, for now, to this hungry wild animal.
Last month my son-in-law, Stephen, was appointed by Gov. Brown to be a Superior Court judge in California. He was sworn in on September 12th. Although separated by 850 miles, that evening Linda and David Stein, who actually know Stephen, celebrated this proud family moment with me.
There’s more. Yesterday, following my bear encounter I received a call from my friend whose house I am watching. “Hey Mare,” she said. “A bear broke into the house. He tore apart the framing and came in the smaller dining room window. My yard guy found it this morning.”
I had just been there the day before. There’s a sophisticated alarm system on the windows/doors that was installed last year after a bear break-in. I just knew I’d set the alarm properly. It should have gone off and scared the heck out of the bear.
This abandoned and forlorn-looking bird nest evokes memories of a summer well spent.
“Oh the alarm was on when my guy went into the house,” she said. “You set it. It just didn’t go off when the bear climbed in the window. It didn’t work. ”
There was nothing to attract the bear, no food on the counters. Bears have good memories/instincts. The same bear? He made a mess, dented the Sub-Zero and caused considerable damage. If caught he’ll be relocated or, even worse, euthanized.
All of us who live here realize we’re in bear habitat, a Fed Bear is a Dead Bear. We’re actually educated and very diligent so these encounters won’t happen. So I’ll hike other trails this fall and, after a call to the alarm company, I’m hoping next time that window will be wired properly.
Such is Life in a mountain community and pretty common throughout the West.
In anticipation of the upcoming holidays I put together a dessert board that looks and tastes like Autumn. Maple Syrup. Apples – cake, turnovers and dried. Caramel, as in chocolate brownies. And, a holiday bundt cake that can turn into small loaves, mini-bundts and cupcakes.
MARIE-HÉLÈNE’S APPLE CAKE by Dorie Greenspan, Around my French Table
A favorite recipe for many bakers, I make it several times each fall. It is also featured in FOOD52’s Genius Recipes, 100 Recipes That Will Change The Way to Cook cookbook, page 220-1
ALL-IN-ONE HOLIDAY BUNDT CAKE by Dorie Greenspan, Baking from My Home to Yours cookbook
This is a tried-and-true recipe and can be used for smaller-sized individual bundt cakes, small loaves or cupcakes. (See my pictured Sweet Board.)
1 ¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup cranberries, halved or coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
6 TBS confectioners’ sugar
2 TBS Maple Syrup
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Butter or spray a 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and ginger powder, if you’re using it instead of the grated ginger.
3. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the butter and both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
4. Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, apple and grated ginger, if using it. Don’t be concerned if the batter looks curdled.
5. Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. With a rubber spatula, stir in the cranberries and pecans. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
6. Bake directly on the oven rack for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
7. Transfer to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool to room temperature on a rack with wax paper underneath.
8. For maple icing, sift 6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons maple syrup, little by little, until you have an icing that runs nicely off the tip of the spoon. Let the icing set for 3-4 minutes after dripping it onto the cakes.
9. If you wish, sprinkle more pecans on top before the frosting sets. Or, just sprinkle cake with confectionary sugar.
TIPS: Feel free to substitute with dried and chopped raisins or apricots.
Wrapped well, the cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days, at which point it’s good for toasting; or freeze for up to 2 months. As always, it’s best when served the same day.
Stuffed Eggplant Parm – Turn either Globe, Italian, Graffiti, or White eggplants into boats and stuff them full of crispy, cheesy, tomato and eggplant goodness.
Not long ago, when walking to a music concert with my friend Wendy, she asked, “Do you miss your garden?”
That question, out of the blue, had nothing to do with our ongoing chatter and was rather innocuous. “Yes,” I answered. “Yes I do.”
Although we quickly moved on to more important topics – her upcoming trip to Papua New Guinea, my Emma’s college visits and where to get the best haircut – that question gave me pause.
Le Grande Aioli with Crudités Board for Two
A big chunk of Michael’s and my springtime/summer revolved around gardening – planning, preparing, planting and harvesting. From the moment the rhubarb tips poked through the lingering spring snow until the frost polished off my herbs, we tended our “crops,” sharing the wealth with neighbors. Admittedly, after picking the last of our raspberries and digging up the potatoes in the fall, we were farmered-out, ready to put it to bed.
Apple Crumble – In anticipation of Rosh Hashanah, I participated in another cooking class, A Taste of Honey, at the Jewish Community Center – Chabad of Aspen. We also made Honey Cake which I had never made before.
As you readers know, determined to bloom where I’m planted, I don’t often dwell on the past. I can’t bring back what was and I’ve pretty much depleted my well of sadness. What I do know is those were joyful moments despite the ruined manicures, my outrage at a deer nibbling the edible buds off my only (ever) brussels sprout stalk or Michael’s constant tracking dirt onto our white carpeting. (That white carpeting drove me bonkers.)
Treat Time as if it is precious because it is.
Since we’re talking about farming !?! Donna Chase and I encountered this herd of goats while walking recently on the Rio Grande Trail. They are on-the-move throughout the county, munching, on the weeds.
While I may no longer reap the fruits of our labor, many friends, who still garden, are graciously sharing their bounty. They know their food gifts to me aren’t wasted (I send photos.) In fact Wendy, who maintains a huge garden, is now in New Guinea for three weeks and has left me her key.
HAPPY NEW YEAR to those of you who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah on Sunday evening. And, thank you to Leiba and the Women’s Inner Circle at the Jewish Community Center at the Chabad of Aspen for sharing your Rosh Hashanah memories while we baked our sweet desserts.
This week’s recipes spotlight the veggies gathered from local gardens and our farmer’s market.
1.Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
2.Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Leaving a 1/2-inch border, use a paring knife to cut around the insides of each half, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon, creating boats out of the shells. Coarsely chop the flesh and set aside.
3.Brush or rub the insides of the hollowed eggplant shells with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
4.Place the shells cut-side up in a 13×9-inch baking dish. Roast until tender (there should be no resistance when pierced with the tip of a paring knife), about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the eggplant. Set aside.
5.Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon of the oil, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl; set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped eggplant flesh, garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
6. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is tender, 7 to 9 minutes.
7. Stir in 1 cup of the marinara and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the 1 cup of the mozzarella, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and stir to combine.
7. Heat the broiler to high. Remove the baking dish from the oven. Transfer the eggplant shells to a work surface. Pour the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce into the baking dish and spread into an even layer.
8. Return the eggplant shells to the baking dish. Spoon the filling evenly into the shells. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and reserved breadcrumb mixture.
9. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the breadcrumbs are browned, 2 to 4 minutes. To serve, top the eggplant shells with marinara sauce from the baking dish.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Use any raw vegetables you wish. Be creative. Jicama? Beets? Cherry Tomatoes? Blanch the green beans in salted water for 2 – 4 minutes and cook the small potatoes for 10-12 minutes. Cook the beets also if you are using them.
LE GRANDE AIOLI (Garlic Mayonnaise)
IN THE SPIRIT OF FULL DISCLOSURE: This vegetable platter and dips are this week’s Cook the Book Friday’s recipe from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen Cookbook. Unfortunately David’s recipe did not work for any of us. There was an error in the ingredients list, I believe, causing us to pour in 1 extra cup of oil. (Page 146 of the book.) The recipe below is easy and delicious. If you don’t like garlic, leave it out.
Makes about 1 cup
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt
3/4 cup mayonnaise
21/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Mix mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.